ROCK ROLLERS REPORT: TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015
“Up is down and down is up”Yes, dear friends, our crew discovered some new truths about brook trout spawning habitat this week. Larry Halyk of MNR, Stewardship renown and all round great guy gave us a lesson on how turning things upside down can really pay off.
When brook trout spawn, they don’t really know or care whether the oxygenated seeping through their recently-laid eggs is coming up or down. All they want is for their precious deposit to survive and produce babies! This came as a revelation to us river “grunts”, but we believe in Larry and his experience in these matters, so….How do we do this upside –down stuff?
In order to tackle the problem of anoxic springs feeding into a nicely tumbling oxygenated trout nursery stream, we create, not “rocky ramps”, but “vortex weirs” which forces a portion of the current DOWN through the spawning gravel which is placed UPSTREAM of the weir. This may be hard to follow, but our upcoming video of the process will show the process. (It may need to be on DVD, since the process and explanations took a lot of Larry’s time.) In summary, it debunks the premise of upwelling oxygen-rich spring sources as an absolute necessity.
What a learning experience!! We will keep it in our archives, as we did many years ago when Larry conducted an Electro-fishing session on Bronte Creek. (It is still in use as a training video by several interested groups) This process bodes well for expanded use here on the Mill Creek, Cayuga watershed, where similar opportunities exist for expanding our spawning potential.
Our day was eventful in other ways as well: Our intrepid ex-DFO experts, Scott Millard and Vic Cairns investigated the insect life while waiting for Larry to arrive. They found extensive populations of various types of “baby trout food”, such as isopods, mayfly nymphs, and other species of benthic life (can you spell black flies?) to provide a vital food web for our impending brook trout plantings. All is good.
The day’s activities attracted, not only 5 TUTKC and 7 Habitat Haldimand workers, but a total of four local land owners visited, keen to see the progress we were making. One of which was 150+ year ascendant who owns countless acreage around the site. Brian Vanderberg, (who caught “specs” at Taquanyah 50 years ago) offered to provide heavy equipment needed to transport more large rock to our site in the future, since our field rocks are upwards of 60 lbs. How many Kgs is that?
We followed Larry’s guidance in completing our first spawning bed and recorded his advice on how to create four other sites, some similar and others easier. We have lots of work to do within a tight time frame, since we understand that the wild trout fry could be transferred in mid to late May.
As usual, the feeling of real accomplishment was enjoyed by all 13 of us, including Larry He too, senses the value of what we are doing and the ground-breaking steps we are taking.
|Vortex Spawn Site|
|Vortex Weir Done|
We did learn to have our gravel delivered “unmixed”, since each size is used at different times in the installation. A big part of our team had the tedious, yet critical job of sorting gravel by size as required. Their diligence paid off, since we were never short of whatever size was needed as we worked through the process. Moral: NO job is unimportant to the success of a project! Our diggers and dumpers can say “Thank you, crew!” for the timely supply of the right materials.
We had not realized the need for large “Keystone” boulders, so our local wonder boy, Wade took off searching for such materials and returned with our first 60 lb. + rock cradled in his arms “Call the chiropractor” we shouted, but he and several others went rock hunting and provided the necessary aggregate. We will need more, but at least the transport part has been prearranged.
We cannot close without expressing our sincere appreciation to Larry Halyk. He gave us the guidance and his physical supervision to create something remarkable indeed and we all were delighted to see just how it worked. Each of us has learned a wonderful lesson in resourcefulness that will pay off in the future. Larry, you have created another group of admirers! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Total Project Volunteer hours to date: 2,538.25
Bill Christmas, President, Ted Knott Chapter, Trout Unlimited Canada